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Notice

Proposed Exemption; Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Its Affiliates

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Employee Benefits Security Administration, Labor.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed exemption.

SUMMARY:

This document contains a notice of pendency before the Department of Labor (the Department) of a proposed exemption from certain of the prohibited transaction restrictions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (the Act) and/or the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the Code).

Written Comments and Hearing Requests

All interested persons are invited to submit written comments or requests for a hearing on the pending exemption, unless otherwise stated in the Notice of Proposed Exemption, within 45 days from the date of publication of this Federal Register Notice. Comments and requests for a hearing should state: (1) The name, address, and telephone number of the person making the comment or request, and (2) the nature of the person's interest in the exemption and the manner in which the person would be adversely affected by the exemption. A request for a hearing must also state the issues to be addressed and include a general description of the evidence to be presented at the hearing.

ADDRESSES:

All written comments and requests for a hearing (at least three copies) should be sent to the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Office of Exemption Determinations, Room N-5649, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210. Start Printed Page 6188Attention: Application No. ___, stated in each Notice of Proposed Exemption. Interested persons are also invited to submit comments and/or hearing requests to EBSA via e-mail or FAX. Any such comments or requests should be sent either by e-mail to: moffittb@pwba.dol.gov, or by FAX to (202) 219-0204 by the end of the scheduled comment period. The applications for exemption and the comments received will be available for public inspection in the Public Documents Room of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-1513, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210.

Notice to Interested Persons

Notice of the proposed exemption will be provided to all interested persons in the manner agreed upon by the applicant and the Department within 15 days of the date of publication in the Federal Register. Such notice shall include a copy of the notice of proposed exemption as published in the Federal Register and shall inform interested persons of their right to comment and to request a hearing (where appropriate).

End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The proposed exemption was requested in an application filed pursuant to section 408(a) of the Act and/or section 4975(c)(2) of the Code, and in accordance with procedures set forth in 29 CFR part 2570, subpart B (55 FR 32836, 32847, August 10, 1990). Effective December 31, 1978, section 102 of Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1978, 5 U.S.C. App. 1 (1996), transferred the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to issue exemptions of the type requested to the Secretary of Labor. Therefore, these notices of proposed exemption are issued solely by the Department.

The application contains representations with regard to the proposed exemptions which are summarized below. Interested persons are referred to the application on file with the Department for a complete statement of the facts and representations.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Its Affiliates Located in New York, NY

Proposed Exemption

The Department is considering granting an exemption under the authority of section 408(a) of the Act and section 4975(c)(2) of the Code, and in accordance with the procedures set forth in 29 CFR Part 2570, Subpart B (55 FR 32847, August 10, 1990).

Section I—Transactions

If the exemption is granted, the restrictions of sections 406(a)(1)(A) through (D) of the Act and the sanctions resulting from application of section 4975 of the Code, by reason of section 4975(c)(1)(A) through (D) of the Code, shall not apply to any purchase or sale of securities, in the context of a portfolio liquidation or restructuring, between (i) Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. (DBSI) and its current and future affiliates, including certain foreign broker-dealers or banks (the Foreign Affiliates, as defined in Section III below), (collectively, the Applicant) and (ii) employee benefit plans (the Plans) with respect to which the Applicant is a party in interest, provided that the conditions set forth in Section II are satisfied.

Section II—Conditions

A. The Applicant customarily purchases and sells securities for its own account in the ordinary course of its business as a broker-dealer or bank;

B. Neither the Applicant nor an affiliate thereof has discretionary authority or control with respect to the investment of the Plan assets involved in the transaction, or renders investment advice (within the meaning of 29 CFR 2510.3-21(c)) with respect to those assets.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Applicant may be a directed trustee (as defined in Section III below) with respect to the Plan assets involved in the transaction.

In addition, this condition will be deemed satisfied if the Applicant is being terminated as a manager of the plan assets involved in the transaction, the termination is effective prior to the commencement of the portfolio liquidation or restructuring, and the Applicant has not used its discretion to appoint the transition broker-dealer.

Lastly, a transaction will not fail to meet the requirements of this section solely because the Applicant is being retained as an investment manager with respect to the Plan assets involved in the transaction, provided that: (i) The Applicant has not used its discretion to appoint the transition broker-dealer; (ii) the plan assets are to be managed as an Index or Model-Driven Fund; or (iii) the investment manager of such assets supplies a list of securities to be purchased, which list is prepared without regard to the identity of the broker-dealer and without reference to the portfolio being liquidated or restructured (i.e., the list is substantially the same as would be provided to other similarly situated investors with similar objectives or consists of substantially the same securities as those in other existing investment portfolios managed in the same style);

C. The transaction is a purchase or sale, for no consideration other than cash;

D. The terms of any transaction are at least as favorable to the Plan as those obtainable in a comparable arm's length transaction with an unrelated party;

E. An Independent Fiduciary has given prior approval for the transaction, specifying (solely in the case where the price for any principal transaction is not based on an objective measure) whether the transaction is to be agency or principal, either on a security-by-security basis, or based on the whole portfolio or an identifiable part of the portfolio (such as all debt securities, all equity securities, all domestic securities, or the like);

F. All purchases and sales are effected within two days following the Independent Fiduciary's direction to purchase or sell a given security—except that, with the approval of the Independent Fiduciary, the Applicant may extend such initial period for a time not exceeding two additional days;

G. Prior to any transaction, the Independent Fiduciary agrees that the purchase or sale of a security, which must be one that is publicly traded, may be effectuated through a principal transaction at a price that—

(1) In the case of an equity security, is specified in advance by the Independent Fiduciary and is a stated dollar amount, or is based on an objective measure (as of a specified date or dates), including, but not limited to, the closing price, the opening price, or the volume-weighted average price; or

(2) In the case of a fixed income security, is a stated dollar amount, or is within the bid and asked spread, as of the close of the relevant market (on a specified date or dates), as reported by an independent third party reporting service or a publicly available electronic exchange;

H. The Independent Fiduciary is furnished with confirmations including the relevant information required under Rule 10b-10 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the 1934 Act), as well as a report, within five business days of the transaction, containing the following information with respect to each security:

(1) The identity of the security;

(2) The date on which the transaction occurred;

(3) The quantity and price of the securities involved; and Start Printed Page 6189

(4) Whether the transaction was executed with the Applicant as principal or agent;

I. Each Plan shall have total net assets with a value of at least $100 million. For purposes of the net assets test, where a group of Plans is maintained by a single employer or controlled group of employers, as defined in section 407(d)(7) of the Act, the $100 million net assets requirement may be met by aggregating the assets of such Plans, if the assets are pooled for investment purposes in a single master trust;

J. The Applicant complies with all applicable securities or banking laws relating to the transaction;

K. Any Foreign Affiliate is a registered broker-dealer or bank subject to regulation by a governmental agency, as described in Section III, B, and is in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations thereof in connection with any transaction covered by the proposed exemption;

L. Any Foreign Affiliate, in connection with any transaction covered by the proposed exemption, is in compliance with the requirements of Rule 15a-6 (17 CFR 240.15a-6) of the 1934 Act, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) interpretations thereof, providing for foreign affiliates a limited exemption from U.S. broker-dealer registration requirements;

M. Prior to any transaction, the Foreign Affiliate enters into a written agreement with the Plan in which the Foreign Affiliate consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States for any civil action or proceeding brought in respect of the subject transactions. In this regard, the Foreign Affiliate must (i) agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the United States; (ii) agree to appoint an agent for service of process in the United States, which may be an affiliate (the Process Agent); and (iii) consent to service of process on the Process Agent;

N. The Applicant maintains, or causes to be maintained, within the United States for a period of six years from the date of any transaction, such records as are necessary to enable the persons described in Paragraph O, below, to determine whether the conditions of the exemption have been met, except that—

(1) A party in interest with respect to a Plan, other than the Applicant, shall not be subject to a civil penalty under section 502(i) of the Act, or the taxes imposed by section 4975 (a) and (b) of the Code, if such records are not maintained, or not available for examination, as required by Paragraph O; and

(2) This record-keeping condition shall not be violated if, due to circumstances beyond the Applicant's control, such records are lost or destroyed prior to the end of the six year period; and

O. Notwithstanding any provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b) of section 504 of the Act, the Applicant makes the records referred to in Paragraph N, above, unconditionally available within the United States during normal business hours at their customary location to the following persons or a duly authorized representative thereof: (1) The Department, the Internal Revenue Service, or the SEC; (2) any fiduciary of a Plan; (3) any contributing employer to a Plan; (4) any employee organization any of whose members are covered by a Plan; and (5) any participant or beneficiary of a Plan. However, none of the persons described in Items (2) through (5) of this subsection is authorized to examine the trade secrets of the Applicant, or commercial or financial information which is privileged or confidential.

Section III—Definitions

A. The term “DBSI” means Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. DBSI and its domestic affiliates must be one of the following:

(i) A broker-dealer registered under the 1934 Act; (ii) a reporting dealer who makes primary markets in securities of the United States Government or of any agency of the United States Government (“Government securities”) and reports daily to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York its positions with respect to Government securities and borrowings thereon; or (iii) a bank supervised by the United States or a State. DBSI and its current and future affiliates, including the Foreign Affiliates (as defined in Paragraph C, below), are collectively referred to herein as “the Applicant.”

B. The term “affiliate” shall include: (1) Any person directly or indirectly, through one or more intermediaries, controlling, controlled by, or under common control with such person; (2) any officer, director, or partner, employee or relative (as defined in section 3(15) of the Act) of such person; and (3) any corporation or partnership of which such person is an officer, director or partner. For purposes of this definition, the term “control” means the power to exercise a controlling influence over the management or policies of a person other than an individual.

C. The term “Foreign Affiliate” means an affiliate of DBSI that is subject to regulation as a broker-dealer or bank by: (1) The Securities and Futures Authority or the Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom; (2) the Federal Authority for Financial Services Supervision, i.e., der Bundesanstalt fuer Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (the BAFin) in Germany; (3) the Ministry of Finance and/or the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan; (4) the Ontario Securities Commission and/or the Investment Dealers Association, or the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, in Canada; (5) the Swiss Federal Banking Commission in Switzerland; or (6) the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority or the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, and/or the Australian Stock Exchange Limited, in Australia.

D. The term “security” shall include equities, fixed income securities, options on equity or fixed income securities, government obligations, and any other instrument that constitutes a security under U.S. securities laws. The term “security” does not include swap agreements or other notional principal contracts.

E. The term “index” means a securities index that represents the investment performance of a specific segment of the public market for equity or debt securities in the United States and/or foreign countries, but only if—

(1) The organization creating and maintaining the index is—

(i) Engaged in the business of providing financial information, evaluation, advice, or securities brokerage services to institutional clients,

(ii) A publisher of financial news or information, or

(iii) A public securities exchange or association of securities dealers;

(2) The index is created and maintained by an organization independent of the Applicant; and

(3) The index is a generally accepted standardized index of securities that is not specifically tailored for the use of the Applicant.

F. The term “Index Fund” means any investment fund, account, or portfolio trusteed or managed by the Applicant, in which one or more investors invest, and—

(1) Which is designed to track the rate of return, risk profile, and other characteristics of an independently maintained securities index (as “index” is defined in Paragraph E, above) by either (i) replicating the same combination of securities that compose such index, or (ii) sampling the securities that compose such index based on objective criteria and data;

(2) For which the Applicant does not use its discretion, or data within its control, to affect the identity or amount of securities to be purchased or sold; Start Printed Page 6190

(3) That contains “plan assets” subject to the Act, pursuant to the Department's regulations (see 29 CFR 2510.3-101, Definition of “plan assets”—plan investments); and

(4) That involves no agreement, arrangement, or understanding regarding the design or operation of the Fund that is intended to benefit the Applicant or any party in which the Applicant may have an interest.

G. The term “Model-Driven Fund” means any investment fund, account, or portfolio trusteed or managed by the Applicant, in which one or more investors invest, and—

(1) Which is composed of securities, the identity of which and the amount of which, are selected by a computer model that is based on prescribed objective criteria using independent third party data, not within the control of the Manager, to transform an Index (as defined in Paragraph E, above);

(2) Which contains “plan assets” subject to the Act, pursuant to the Department's regulations (see 29 CFR 2510.3-101, Definition of “plan assets”—plan investments); and

(3) That involves no agreement, arrangement, or understanding regarding the design or operation of the Fund, or the utilization of any specific objective criteria, that is intended to benefit the Applicant or any party in which the Applicant may have an interest.

H. The term “Plan” means an employee benefit plan that is subject to the fiduciary responsibility provisions of the Act.

I. The term “Independent Fiduciary” means a fiduciary of a Plan who is unrelated to, and independent of, the Applicant. For purposes of the proposed exemption, a Plan fiduciary will be deemed to be unrelated to, and independent of, the Applicant if such fiduciary represents that neither such fiduciary, nor any individual responsible for the decision to authorize or terminate authorization for transactions described in Section I, is an officer, director, or highly compensated employee (within the meaning of section 4975(e)(2)(H) of the Code) of the Applicant and represents that such fiduciary shall advise the Applicant if those facts change.

(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Section III, I, a fiduciary is not independent if:

(i) Such fiduciary directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the Applicant;

(ii) Such fiduciary directly or indirectly receives any compensation or other consideration from the Applicant for his or her own personal account in connection with any transaction described in the proposed exemption;

(iii) Any officer, director, or highly compensated employee (within the meaning of section 4975(e)(2)(H) of the Code) of the Applicant, responsible for the transactions described in Section I, is an officer, director, or highly compensated employee (within the meaning of section 4975(e)(2)(H) of the Code) of the Plan sponsor or the fiduciary responsible for the decision to authorize or terminate authorization for transactions described in Section I. However, if such individual is a director of the Plan sponsor or the responsible fiduciary, and if he or she abstains from participation in (A) the choice of the Plan's broker-dealer or bank executing the transactions covered herein, and (B) the decision to authorize or terminate authorization for transactions described in Section I, then Section III, I(1)(iii) shall not apply.

(2) The term “officer” means a president, any vice president in charge of a principal business unit, division or function (such as sales, administration or finance), or any other officer who performs a policy-making function for the entity.

J. The term “directed trustee” means a Plan trustee whose powers and duties with respect to any assets of the Plan involved in the portfolio liquidation or restructuring are limited to (i) the provision of nondiscretionary trust services to the Plan, and (ii) duties imposed on the trustee by any provision or provisions of the Act or the Code. The term “nondiscretionary trust services” means custodial services and services ancillary to custodial services, none of which services is discretionary. For purposes of the proposed exemption, a person who is otherwise a directed trustee will not fail to be a directed trustee solely by reason of having been delegated, by the sponsor of a master or prototype Plan, the power to amend such Plan.

Summary of Facts and Representations

1. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. (i.e., DBSI) is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank AG, a German banking corporation regulated by the BAFin. DBSI, a Delaware corporation, is a full-service broker-dealer, providing research, sales and trading, investment banking, retail, investment advisory services, and prime brokerage services. DBSI is registered as a U.S. broker-dealer under Section 15 of the 1934 Act, as amended, and is a member of the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, Chicago Board of Options Exchange, and the Chicago Stock Exchange, among others, and DBSI is a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers.

DBSI's affiliate, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (DBT), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank Trust Corporation, which, in turn, is an indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank AG. DBT, a New York State banking corporation, is supervised by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

2. DBSI also has several foreign affiliates which are broker-dealers or banks. Those covered by the proposed exemption (i.e., the Foreign Affiliates) include but are not limited to:

(a) United Kingdom—Morgan Grenfell & Co., Ltd., Bankers Trust International PLC, and the London Branch of Deutsche Bank;

(b) Germany—Deutsche Bank AG;

(c) Japan—Japan Bankers Trust Ltd., Deutsche Bank Securities Limited, Tokyo Branch, and Deutsche Trust Bank Limited;

(d) Canada—Deutsche Bank Canada and Deutsche Bank Securities Limited;

(e) Switzerland—Deutsche Bank (Suisse) S.A.; and

(f) Australia—Deutsche Bank Securities Australia, Limited and the Sydney Branch of Deutsche Bank.

The Applicant requests an individual exemption for DBSI and its current and future affiliates, including the Foreign Affiliates identified above, which would permit principal transactions with employee benefit plans (i.e., the Plans), as described herein.

The Applicant represents that the Foreign Affiliates are subject to regulation by a governmental agency in the foreign country in which they are located. The Applicant states that registration of a foreign broker-dealer or bank with the governmental agency in these cases addresses regulatory concerns similar to those addressed by registration of a broker-dealer with the SEC under the 1934 Act. The rules and regulations set forth by the above-referenced agencies and the SEC share a common objective: The protection of the investor by the regulation of securities markets. The foreign regulatory regimes have been described in detail in numerous other exemptions previously granted by the Department [see, e.g., PTE 99-50 (65 FR 534, January 5, 2000), granted to Bankers Trust Company, now known as Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas].

Further, the Applicant represents that, in connection with the transactions covered by the proposed exemption, the Foreign Affiliates' compliance with any applicable requirements of Rule 15a-6 Start Printed Page 6191(17 CFR 240.15a-6) of the 1934 Act (as discussed further in Item 9, below), and SEC interpretations thereof, providing for foreign affiliates a limited exemption from U.S. registration requirements, will offer additional protections to the Plans.

3. The Applicant represents that it customarily purchases and sells securities for its own account in the ordinary course of its business as a broker-dealer or bank. Such trades are referred to as principal transactions. In the subject principal transactions with Plans, occurring in the context of a portfolio liquidation or restructuring, the Applicant may be a party in interest with respect to such Plans.

The Applicant believes that the principal transactions at issue may fall outside the scope of relief provided by Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 75-1 (40 FR 50845, October 31, 1975), Part II,[1] because that class exemption is unavailable where the broker-dealer's affiliate is the trustee of a Plan, even if only a directed trustee. In addition, because PTE 75-1 provides an exemption only for U.S. registered broker-dealers and U.S. banks, it is unavailable for the Applicant's Foreign Affiliates.[2] Thus, the Applicant seeks an individual exemption permitting it to execute principal transactions with Plans in the situations described above.

As a condition of the proposed exemption, neither the Applicant nor an affiliate thereof may have discretionary authority or control with respect to the investment of the Plan assets involved in the principal transaction, or render investment advice (within the meaning of 29 CFR 2510.3-21(c)) with respect to those assets. However, one or more of the entities affiliated with the Applicant may be a directed trustee of the Plan (as discussed further in Item 5, below).

In addition, this condition will be deemed met if the Applicant or an affiliate is the “legacy manager” whose appointment as a manager of plan assets has been terminated prior to the commencement of the portfolio liquidation or restructuring, since the legacy manager would not have been involved in the selection of the “transition broker-dealer” and would no longer be acting as a fiduciary with respect to the assets involved in the liquidation or restructuring.

This condition will also be met if the Applicant or an affiliate is the “destination manager,” who was not involved in the selection of the transition broker-dealer but provides such broker-dealer with a list of securities to be purchased for the Plan with the proceeds of the securities being liquidated, so long as the list represents those securities in an Index or Model-Driven Fund.

Similarly, this condition will be met if the destination manager prepares for the Plan sponsor (i.e., the Independent Fiduciary) a list of securities to be purchased for the Plan with the proceeds of the securities being liquidated, so long as that list is prepared without regard to the identity of the transition broker-dealer and without reference to the portfolio being liquidated or restructured (i.e., the list is substantially the same as would be provided to other similarly situated investors with similar objectives or consists of substantially the same securities as those in other existing investment portfolios managed in the same style).

Thus, the Applicant or an affiliate may be retained as an investment manager for the Plan with respect to some or all of the portfolio resulting from the liquidation or restructuring (as discussed further in Item 6, below), provided that an Independent Fiduciary has given prior approval for the principal transactions, as part of the liquidation or restructuring, and the other conditions set forth herein are met.[3]

4. The Applicant represents that when sponsors of Plans terminate an investment manager, it is customary to hire a broker-dealer to liquidate the portfolio of the terminated manager and/or create the portfolio of the newly hired manager. An Independent Fiduciary, generally the Plan sponsor, hires a broker-dealer to perform these so-called “transition services.” The Independent Fiduciary instructs the broker-dealer to purchase or sell a list of securities within a specified period. The list of securities to be sold is from the portfolio held by the Plan at the time the manager is terminated. The list of securities to be purchased is from a list prepared by the new manager (who may or may not be affiliated with the Applicant). Generally, the transition broker-dealer takes both the legacy portfolios and the destination portfolios, matches any securities that appear in both, and allocates such securities to the appropriate destination managers ratably. Then the remaining legacy securities are sold, the cash proceeds placed in the appropriate custody account, and the destination securities are purchased.

The Applicant represents that, while the Independent Fiduciary may specify that the transactions are to be executed by the broker-dealer as agent in markets where such transactions are typical,[4] it is often the case that the markets involved require principal transactions, such as is the case for NASDAQ National Market securities or fixed income securities.

The Applicant represents that often the Independent Fiduciary and the transition broker-dealer will agree that certain principal transactions will be effected at a price determined by an objective reference outside the control of the transition broker-dealer, including, but not limited to, the opening or closing price of the security for the day on the principal exchange on which the security is traded, the volume-weighted average price [5] for the day, or the price as reported by an independent reporting service for that particular day. In such case, the Applicant represents that the price at which the principal transaction will Start Printed Page 6192occur will be determined by market forces and not by the broker-dealer.

Prior to any transaction that is not based on an objective reference for pricing, the Independent Fiduciary shall specify whether the transaction is to be agency or principal, either on a security-by-security basis, or based on the whole portfolio or an identifiable part of the portfolio (such as all debt securities, all equity securities, all domestic securities, or the like). Any principal transaction will be for cash, and the terms at least as favorable to the Plan as those obtainable in a comparable arm's length transaction with an unrelated party.

5. The Applicant represents that purchases and sales of securities effected as part of transition services will take place as follows. The Independent Fiduciary of a Plan, after such due diligence as it deems appropriate under the circumstances, selects a broker-dealer to purchase or sell a specified portfolio of securities. Where the broker-dealer selected is the Applicant and an affiliate of the Applicant is the directed trustee of the Plan, such affiliate must be a fiduciary that has no discretionary authority or control with respect to the investment of the Plan assets involved in the transaction (including determining the broker-dealer to be hired to provide transition services for the Plan), nor renders investment advice (within the meaning of 29 CFR 2510.3-21(c)) with respect to those assets.

The Applicant asserts that permitting it to engage in principal transactions where one of its affiliates is a directed trustee of a Plan will provide Plans with additional expert broker-dealers experienced at transition services from which Plans may choose to implement changes in investment managers or investment strategies.

In such situations, the Applicant believes it may not be able to rely on the Department's class exemptions providing relief for principal transactions. For example, the Applicant believes that the Independent Fiduciary for the subject transactions is unlikely to be a “qualified professional asset manager” (QPAM), as defined in PTE 84-14, (49 FR 9494, 9506, March 13, 1984),[6] or an “in-house asset manager” (INHAM), as defined in PTE 96-23 (61 FR 15975, April 10, 1996).[7]

6. Although the Applicant may not have discretionary authority or control over the Plan assets involved at the time of the transaction, this condition is not violated and the proposed exemption provides relief for purchases and sales of securities where the Applicant's affiliate will serve as the new investment manager for such assets, where such manager has provided a list of securities to be purchased for the Plan to the transition broker-dealer, as described below.

Where the destination manager will be managing the assets in an Index Fund (as defined in Section III, F) or a Model-Driven Fund (as defined in Section III, G), the list of securities to be purchased is the optimum portfolio that has been identified by the manager's computer model, or is a slice of the underlying index, or a slice of the Fund (taking into account round lots and other conventions).

Where the destination manager of an actively managed portfolio supplies a list of securities that it would purchase if it were to receive cash, the transition broker-dealer uses that list to assemble the desired portfolio prior to the date that the destination manager assumes responsibility for the portfolio. That list is prepared without reference to the identity of the transition broker-dealer, without reference to the portfolio being liquidated, and without reference to the securities held in inventory by the transition broker-dealer. The Applicant asserts that compliance with condition II.B(iii) can be demonstrated by comparison with a list that was provided on the same day to other similarly situated investors with similar objectives or by comparison with the holdings in other existing investment portfolios managed in the same style.

According to the Applicant, the choice of a destination manager of an actively managed portfolio generally precedes and is separate from any decision regarding the transition broker-dealer. The Independent Fiduciary has selected the destination manager on the basis of its investment style and performance, and the Plan's asset allocation requirements. The destination manager may introduce the transition broker-dealer to the Independent Fiduciary but is not responsible for choosing the transition broker-dealer, nor for giving advice on which the Independent Fiduciary intends to rely as a primary basis for such choice. When the transition broker-dealer is selected, the Independent Fiduciary requests that the destination manager provide the list of securities to be purchased, which is the same list that the destination manager would provide to any new client with the same investment style choices, as described above. The Applicant further represents that the situation should not present an opportunity for self-dealing on the part of the transition broker-dealer or destination manager, since the destination manager would not be acting as a fiduciary with respect to the buy portfolio until after the portfolio is purchased.[8]

7. Generally, the time period for the transition program is specified in advance by the Independent Fiduciary as of a date certain, to be completed by a date certain. The Applicant represents that this time period may vary, based on the size of the portfolio, but, generally, does not exceed four business days. As a condition of the proposed exemption, all purchases and sales must be effected within two days following an Independent Fiduciary's direction to purchase or sell a given security—except that, with the approval of the Independent Fiduciary, the Applicant may extend such initial period for an additional two days.

8. The Applicant represents that the Independent Fiduciary often specifies an objective method or reference for pricing, such as the closing price, opening price, or the volume-weighted average price for the security on a particular day. In the fixed income markets, it is generally customary for an Independent Fiduciary to specify that the price be within the bid-asked spread, as of the close of the relevant market. Such benchmarks provide an Independent Fiduciary with a basis for measuring the performance of the broker-dealer and satisfying itself that the Plan obtained best execution.

The Applicant represents that it will provide the Independent Fiduciary with confirmations that include the relevant information required under Rule 10b-10 of the 1934 Act, as well as a report, within five business days after any principal transaction, which specifies the security, the date of the transaction, Start Printed Page 6193the quantity and price paid or received by the Plan, and the manner of execution (agency or principal). The Applicant states that such disclosure is meaningful because it can be verified against objective prices obtainable through independent pricing services available to the public.

Only Plans with total assets in excess of $100 million are covered by the proposed exemption. However, for purposes of the net assets test, where a group of Plans is maintained by a single employer or controlled group of employers, as defined in section 407(d)(7) of the Act, the $100 million net assets requirement may be met by aggregating the assets of such Plans, if the assets are pooled for investment purposes in a single master trust.

9. Finally, the Applicant notes that many Plans have expanded their investment portfolios in recent years to include foreign securities. With respect to the Foreign Affiliates covered by the proposed exemption, the Applicant represents that Rule 15a-6 of the 1934 Act provides an exemption from U.S. registration requirements for a foreign broker-dealer that induces or attempts to induce the purchase or sale of any security (including over-the-counter equity and debt options) by a “U.S. institutional investor” or a “major U.S. institutional investor,” provided that the foreign broker-dealer, among other things, enters into these principal transactions through a U.S. registered broker or dealer intermediary.

The term “U.S. institutional investor,” as defined in Rule 15a-6(b)(7), includes an employee benefit plan within the meaning of the Act if:

(a) The investment decision is made by a plan fiduciary, as defined in section 3(21) of the Act, which is either a bank, savings and loan association, insurance company or registered investment adviser, or

(b) The employee benefit plan has total assets in excess of $5 million, or

(c) The employee benefit plan is a self-directed plan with investment decisions made solely by persons that are “accredited investors,” as defined in Rule 501(a)(1) of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

The term “major U.S. institutional investor,” as defined in Rule 15a-6(b)(4), includes a U.S. institutional investor that has total assets in excess of $100 million.[9] The Applicant represents that the intermediation of the U.S. registered broker or dealer imposes upon the foreign broker-dealer the requirement that the securities transaction be effected in accordance with a number of U.S. securities laws and regulations applicable to U.S. registered broker-dealers.

The Applicant represents that under Rule 15a-6, a foreign broker-dealer that induces or attempts to induce the purchase or sale of any security by a U.S. institutional or major U.S. institutional investor in accordance with Rule 15a-6 must, among other things:

(a) Provide written consent to service of process for any civil action brought by or proceeding before the SEC or a self-regulatory organization;

(b) Provide the SEC with any information or documents within its possession, custody or control, any testimony of foreign associated persons, and any assistance in taking the evidence of other persons, wherever located, that the SEC requests and that relates to transactions effected pursuant to the Rule;

(c) Rely on the U.S. registered broker or dealer through which the principal transactions with the U.S. institutional and major U.S. institutional investors are effected, among other things, for:

(1) Effecting the transactions, other than negotiating their terms;

(2) Issuing all required confirmations and statements;

(3) As between the foreign broker-dealer and the U.S. registered broker or dealer, extending or arranging for the extension of any credit in connection with the transactions;

(4) Maintaining required books and records relating to the transactions, including those required by Rules 17a-3 (Records to be Made by Certain Exchange Members) and 17a-4 (Records to be Preserved by Certain Exchange Members, Brokers and Dealers) of the 1934 Act; [10]

(5) Receiving, delivering, and safeguarding funds and securities in connection with the transactions on behalf of the U.S. institutional investor or major U.S. institutional investor in compliance with Rule 15c3-3 (Customer Protection—Reserves and Custody of Securities) of the 1934 Act; [11] and

(6) Participating in all oral communications (e.g., telephone calls) between the foreign associated person and the U.S. institutional investor, other than a major U.S. institutional investor. Under certain circumstances, the foreign associated person may have direct communications and contact with the U.S. institutional investor. (See April 9, 1997 No-Action Letter.)

10. Prior to any transaction, the Foreign Affiliate will enter into a written agreement with the Plan in which the Foreign Affiliate consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States for any civil action or proceeding brought in respect of the subject transactions. In this regard, the Foreign Affiliate must (i) Agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the United States; (ii) agree to appoint a Process Agent for service of process in the United States; and (iii) consent to service of process on the Process Agent.

11. In summary, the Applicant represents that the proposed transactions will satisfy the statutory criteria for an exemption under section 408(a) of the Act for the following reasons:

(a) Permitting the Applicant to engage in principal transactions where its affiliate is the directed trustee of a Plan will provide Plans with additional expert broker-dealers experienced at transition services from which Plans may choose as service providers;

(b) Permitting the Applicant to engage in principal transactions, as described herein, will provide Plans with more predictable and verifiable pricing and enable transitions to occur in dealer markets in a timely and efficient manner, by transferring to the broker-dealer the risk of adverse execution;

(c) An Independent Fiduciary will give prior approval for the principal transactions and will monitor the prices received by the Plan through independent, verifiable means; and

(d) An Independent Fiduciary will ensure that securities assembled for either an Index or Model-Driven Fund or actively managed portfolio by a transition broker-dealer affiliated with the destination manager are consistent with the Plan's investment guidelines and objectives.

For Further Information Contact: Ms. Karin Weng of the Department, telephone (202) 693-8540. (This is not a toll-free number.)

General Information

The attention of interested persons is directed to the following: Start Printed Page 6194

(1) The fact that a transaction is the subject of an exemption under section 408(a) of the Act and/or section 4975(c)(2) of the Code does not relieve a fiduciary or other party in interest or disqualified person from certain other provisions of the Act and/or the Code, including any prohibited transaction provisions to which the exemption does not apply and the general fiduciary responsibility provisions of section 404 of the Act, which, among other things, require a fiduciary to discharge his duties respecting the plan solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries of the plan and in a prudent fashion in accordance with section 404(a)(1)(b) of the Act; nor does it affect the requirement of section 401(a) of the Code that the plan must operate for the exclusive benefit of the employees of the employer maintaining the plan and their beneficiaries;

(2) Before an exemption may be granted under section 408(a) of the Act and/or section 4975(c)(2) of the Code, the Department must find that the exemption is administratively feasible, in the interests of the plan and of its participants and beneficiaries, and protective of the rights of participants and beneficiaries of the plan;

(3) The proposed exemptions, if granted, will be supplemental to, and not in derogation of, any other provisions of the Act and/or the Code, including statutory or administrative exemptions and transitional rules. Furthermore, the fact that a transaction is subject to an administrative or statutory exemption is not dispositive of whether the transaction is in fact a prohibited transaction; and

(4) The proposed exemptions, if granted, will be subject to the express condition that the material facts and representations contained in each application are true and complete, and that each application accurately describes all material terms of the transaction which is the subject of the exemption.

Start Signature

Signed in Washington, DC, this 3rd day of February, 2003.

Ivan Strasfeld,

Director of Exemption Determinations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  PTE 75-1, Part II, provides a class exemption, subject to certain conditions, from section 406(a) of the Act and section 4975(c)(1)(A) through (D) of the Code, for principal transactions between employee benefit plans and U.S. registered broker-dealers or U.S. banks that are parties in interest with respect to such plans. PTE 75-1, Part II(d) states, among other things, that “such broker-dealer, reporting dealer or bank is not a fiduciary with respect to the plan, and such broker-dealer, reporting dealer or bank is a party in interest or disqualified person with respect to the plan solely by reason of section 3(14)(B) of the Act or section 4975(e)(2)(B) of the Code, or by reason of a relationship to a person described in such sections.”

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2.  Deutsche Bank AG, and certain foreign affiliates thereof, filed Submission No. E-00194 and obtained authorization from the Department to engage in principal transactions, among other things, with employee benefit plans, pursuant to an authorization made under PTE 96-62 (61 FR 39988, July 31, 1996), and which was designated Final Authorization No. (FAN) 2000-28E, effective November 25, 2000. In this regard, the Department notes that the relief provided by FAN 2000-28E may not cover the principal transactions described in this proposed exemption.

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3.  The Department notes that the proposed exemption is unavailable for any principal transaction occurring upon or after the Applicant's assumption of responsibility as an investment manager for the Plan assets that would be involved in such transaction (notwithstanding the transactions described herein). Once the transition has been completed and the purchases and sales have been consummated, the destination manager will then assume fiduciary responsibility for the portfolio, and the proposed exemption will not apply to any subsequent principal transactions with an affiliate, as described herein, unless the manager is terminated (i.e., a “legacy” investment manager).

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4.  The Applicant represents that where securities are to be purchased or sold on an agency basis, the Applicant will comply with the safe harbor provided by 29 CFR 2510.3-21(d) for the execution of a securities transaction.

Further, the Department notes that PTE 86-128 (51 FR 41686, November 18, 1986) provides a class exemption permitting, among other things, persons who serve as fiduciaries for employee benefit plans to effect or execute securities transactions as an agent for the plan, provided the conditions set forth therein are met.

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5.  For purposes of the proposed exemption, the term volume-weighted average price means the weighted average of the price of each trade that was reported for the security on a given day.

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6.  PTE 84-14 provides a class exemption, subject to certain conditions, for transactions between a party in interest with respect to an employee benefit plan and an investment fund (including a single customer or pooled separate account) in which the plan has an interest and which is managed by a QPAM.

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7.  PTE 96-23 provides a class exemption, subject to certain conditions, for transactions between a party in interest with respect to an employee benefit plan and an investment fund (including a single customer or pooled separate account) in which the plan has an interest and which is managed by an INHAM.

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8.  The Department notes, and the Applicant concurs, that no relief would be provided under the proposed exemption for any violation of section 406(b) of the Act by the destination manager or transition broker-dealer. In this regard, section 406(b) of the Act prohibits, among other things, a fiduciary for a plan from dealing with the assets of the plan in his own interest or for his own account or acting, in his individual or in any other capacity, in a transaction involving the plan on behalf of a party (or representing a party) whose interests are adverse to the interests of the plan or the interest of its participants or beneficiaries.

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9.  The Department notes that the categories of entities that qualify as “major U.S. institutional investors” has been expanded by an SEC No-Action letter. See No-Action Letter issued to Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton on April 9, 1997 (the April 9, 1997 No-Action Letter).

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10.  The Applicant represents that all such requirements relating to record-keeping of principal transactions would be applicable for any Foreign Affiliate in a transaction that would be covered by the proposed exemption.

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11.  Under certain circumstances described in the April 9, 1997 No-Action Letter (e.g., clearance and settlement transactions), there may be direct transfers of funds and securities between a Plan and a Foreign Affiliate. Please note that in such situations (as in the other situations covered by Rule 15a-6), the U.S. broker-dealer will not be acting as a principal with respect to any duties it is required to undertake pursuant to Rule 15a-6.

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[FR Doc. 03-2964 Filed 2-5-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4510-29-P